I just found two great pieces about the waterbed. The first, a very entertaining talk and video featuring the creator, Charles Hall, is here, on CNN.
The second requires reading: it’s a 2010 article from The Atlantic that’s now online. Titled “The Rise and Fall of the (Sexy, Icky, Practical) Waterbed,” it’s got all the bells and whistles I would’ve put in if I’d written the piece. I wish I had!
The Atlantic even includes this commercial from the 1970s. I love the salesman’s sweater. I can’t recall ever seeing such a hip salesman in a store back then.
The article goes into the precursors of the waterbed (Robert Heinlein designed one), the true story of how it came into existance (a Masters Thesis project at San Francisco State’s Design class), and the amazing success, then sudden unpopularity of the bed.
I love this quote, talking about the implied sexiness of the waterbed: “When the spirit of the times changed, what had been James Bond became Austin Powers.”
Does the waterbed have a future? The article was written six years ago, and implied that with new technology calming the wave action, maybe so. I just googled the word and found easily a dozen stores selling waterbeds near me. Some sell nothin’ but waterbeds! Waterbeds are even in Sam’s Club.
Round ones too. This last image, in fact, was just downloaded from Waterbeds.com. Just in case you want to, you know, give it a try. Warning: you can no longer pick up a twin size for $119. Around $900 was the cheapest I saw for the whole thing: deck, pedestal & mattress. And Daddy still loves you.